charter

Charters ignored, state to change leader certifications

Jarek RutzHeadlines, Education

Charter school leaders will have new requirements for certification and licensure.

Charter school leaders will have new requirements for certification and licensure.

Despite months of outcry from the charter school community, the Delaware State Board of Education voted Thursday night to create a pathway for charter school leaders to be certified under the same requirements as district leaders.

It’s a move that Kendall Massett, executive director of the Delaware Charter Schools Network, previously called offensive, degrading, ridiculous and infuriatingly insulting when Regulation 1596 was introduced in February. 

 The pool of charter leaders is a mix of those fully licensed and certified, some who are licensed but not certified as leaders, and some who have no licensure and certification.

‘Your voice matters’ is what I tell my children, the other 18,220 charter students, their parents, charter teachers, staff, leaders, board members, and the community,” she said. “They used their voices and the State Board of Education, except for Reverend Powell, chose not to listen.”

The issue stems from the State Board of Education’s February meeting when Education Secretary Mark Holodick said Delaware wants to make sure charter school heads are certified and licensed in accordance with the requirements of district school leaders. 

For certification, charter school leaders may either:

  • Enroll in a traditional or alternative route to certification program that leads to traditional administrator certification and complete the program within three years.
  • Earn approval for a digital portfolio submitted to an external vendor who will review work samples to measure competency and alignment to professional standards for educational leaders.

The second option would have charter leaders complete a portfolio that follows a rubric for administrators. It could include professional learning if an individual leader needs help completing the portfolio.

These options are only for charter leaders who were employed prior to June 30. 

Those hired after June 30 will be required to hold one of the following standard certificates:

  • School Principal and Assistant School Principal Standard Certificate
  • Certified Central Office Personnel
  • Superintendent or Assistant Superintendent Standard Certificate
  • Special Education Director 

One section of the regulation states that the secretary of education may, upon the written request of a local school district or charter school, review credentials submitted in an application for a Charter School Leader Standard Certificate on an individual basis. 

The secretary is authorized to grant a standard certificate to an applicant who otherwise does not meet the requirements for a Charter School Leader Standard Certificate but whose effectiveness is documented by the local school district or charter school. 

Before the regulation was brought upon the State Board of Education Thursday, the Professional Standards Board discussed it again in its May 11 meeting. 

RELATED: State moves to control charter school leader certifications

In the meeting, dozens of submitted comments were read to the board that indicated the charter school community was vehemently opposed to the regulation, with many suggesting that the regulation inappropriately questions the legitimacy and qualifications of current charter leaders. 

In total, nearly 100 comments were submitted in regard to regulation, from parents, charter school officials and other representatives from individual charters. All but seven comments were against the regulation, with many comments showing strong disapproval for the new requirements. 

“Our community made public comments in person and online in 3-minute soundbites and in writing,” she said, “81% of the written comments were against the regulations and the comments pointed out several of our concerns, not the least of which was that the community had not been meaningfully engaged in the process.”

Ironically, Massett said, the State Board of Education talked about community engagement Thursday night.

“We have been asking for that for months,” she said. “Both the Professional Standards Board and the State Board of Education could have had us come to the table for a presentation, a discussion with actual dialogue, but they chose not to do that.”

Comments from the charter community, she said, pointed out that existing regulations allow for a secretary of education review that could be used at this time without the need for asking leaders that have been in their positions for many years already, including one for two decades, to jump through hoops that do not accurately portray the work that they do. 

Massett has previously pointed out that the nature of charters are different from district schools, as they are innovative, creative and flexible. 

Charter leaders have different responsibilities than district leaders, she pointed out, because they are essentially running a nonprofit since they don’t receive the funding districts do.

They’re also responsible for being advanced in public relations and customer satisfaction while being excellent marketers to raise funds and drive enrollment to their school, something district leaders don’t have the pressure to do. 

“Our community is not giving up and we still believe that our voice matters,” Massett said. “To preserve the original intent of the charter school law, we need a legislative solution. We look forward to working with our legislators that have shown their willingness to collaborate with and listen to the community on whose behalf they serve.”

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